When was the last time you backed up all your important documents and photos? Last month? Last year? Never? Setting up a good backup system can seem time-consuming and intimidating, but it’s neither. Anyone can do it, and everyone should. In less than 15 minutes you can have a system that backs up your files automatically—both to an external drive and to encrypted cloud storage—without any regular action from you.
The Very Basic
The most basic backup strategy would be copying your data from your computer to another hard drive. An external USB Hard Drive plugged into your computer can be configured to perform backups of your data on a set schedule (I have one set to run at 2:00 AM every day).
As you can see from this screen shot my backup did not run last night (as of the date of this blog post), my computer was actually off last night so the backup could not run.
This kind of backup is good for really only one thing: your computer has a hard drive failure. Backing up this way will not protect you in the case of a fire that destroys your equipment. It will not protect you if there is a break in and someone steals all of your computer stuff. It is better than doing nothing, but not really the best plan.
The Next Best Thing
A way to improve your backup quality would be to use two different USB Hard Drives, and keep one in a different location, swapping them in and out of the backup rotation on a set schedule. Keep a drive at work, at a nearby family members home, or even in your car. Use one drive to back up for a week, and then swap the drives. This way, in a worst case scenario, you never lose more than a weeks worth of data.
Is a week too much data to lose? Swap them out daily!
The Next Next Best Thing
Using an online backup service is the next step up in reliable data protection. Services like this install a piece of software on your computer, and on a schedule you set, copy your data to a secure storage area in "the cloud". As a bonus, you are often also able to access these files from any computer as long you can remember the password associated with your backup.
One thing to consider is this type of service is not free. Most run between $50 and $80 a year depending on the amount of storage you need. I am including a few links to some (certainly not all) choices below:
The Best Thing!
The most foolproof strategy for backing up your data is to use both a secondary backup device (like a USB Drive) AND a cloud based storage solution. While not likely (chances of needing a backup are never likely) it is possible any online company could have a massive data lose of its own, or simply go out of business.
I am linking below to some external hard drive choices from Amazon that are appropriate for external backup use:
As a final thought, if you have multiple computers in your home you need to backup, a network storage device on your home network could handle all of them.
As always, Village Tech can help you choose, set-up, and maintain any of these solutions if "at home tech" is not your strong suit.